Our ‘complete capsule’ article last month went down particularly well with readers. Setting out a concentrated, versatile wardrobe, I think it provided both a good starting point for new readers and a way for older ones to realise gaps in their wardrobe.
Unusual or striking clothing can often be the most exciting to buy, but it is the foundational pieces that provide the best value in the long term.
In this follow-up article – as promised at the time – we take that wardrobe and split it into different budgets.
The aim is to suggest how much you should be spending on shoes, for example, if you buy a particular level of tailoring. And then to recommend a maker as an example.
It should enable readers to match their budgets to different providers, and map out how they could slowly build up a wardrobe like this, over a few years.
The list is not meant to be a recommendation of any single maker or brand. The ones listed are among my favourites, naturally, but are merely indicative. Assessing all the different options in each category, at each price level, would require a whole book.
That said, if you do want other recommendations, and links to information about them elsewhere on Permanent Style, do ask in the comments.
Other caveats are that the lowest budget is still quite high – that is just the nature of the quality level we cover on Permanent Style. And that there is of course nothing to stop you buying bespoke shoes, but cheap suits, if you want. In that case, this framework just serves to set out the levels you are jumping between.
Finally, it is worth keeping in mind the actual products recommended in the capsule article, here, as you read the below.
Level A (For Permanent Style, the lowest level)
£1000 to £2000
High made-to-measure. A soft-shouldered brand with a sense of modern style, a focus on quality over branding, and a reliable record on fit and service. Saman Amel or Jean-Manuel Moreau.
Level B (What I tend to buy)
£2400 to £3000
Bespoke, though not the top end. Still unparalleled fit, but perhaps without the finer finishing, high-end retail or European manufacture, which all bring down the price. Sartoria Ciardi in Naples, perhaps Elia Caliendo for more frequency but higher price. (And if these weren’t jackets aimed at being worn with jeans, Whitcomb & Shaftesbury.)
Level C (Price is no object, but quality is)
£3500 to £5000
The best bespoke tailors in the world. The finest of finishing, international service and retail. Which would be the likes of Cifonelli, Liverano or Michael Browne. But actually, there are no soft-shouldered makers at this level, being mostly from Naples. So someone like Ciardi or Caliendo would still fit best.
£200 to £300
Altered ready-to-wear trousers. A good make, perhaps ranging from Berg & Berg to someone like Anderson & Sheppard, with £50 or so set aside to alter the waist and maybe the leg line. This is all most people need – though it does depend on how unusual your body shape is.
£250 to £400
Lower level bespoke, or good made to measure. Personally I’d recommend the former for smarter trousers – like Whitcomb & Shaftesbury for example – but MTM from someone like Stoffa for more casual trousers. If nothing else, because brands like Stoffa use, and often develop, materials that are better suited to casual trousers.
£500 to £1000
Top-end bespoke. Although it is very hard to make a case for paying the top level for just trousers. The fit won’t necessarily be better, and the only thing you’re obviously getting for your money is a finer finish, or more finishing. If price were no object, as it isn’t in this Level, I might look at someone like Camps de Luca, or Richard James, both of whom made me superb trousers as parts of suits. Also Ambrosi on the basis of fit.
£150 to £200
As with trousers, I think you can get a long way with finding ready-made shirts that work for you, or require only small alterations. Those might be from the likes of Drake’s, Anglo-Italian, or even Permanent Style ones. The important thing with a shirt is the collar: whether it flatters the face and sits nicely with a jacket matters much more than the precise fit through the waist.
£200 to £300
Made to measure or bespoke can also be pretty inexpensive, as with Simone Abbarchi for example. And I’d put him at the bottom of this second bracket, with Luca Avitabile at the top. Either way, you’re getting a more improved, personalised fit and collar choice.
£300 to £400
As with many categories, at the very top you’re largely getting more hand work: a more beautiful object perhaps, rather than something that necessarily looks better when you wear it. Here I would go with D’Avino, or top-level 100 Hands.
£300 to £500
A good, mid-range Goodyear-welted shoe. The likes of Crockett & Jones or Carmina. This kind of shoe will reward care and polish more than cheaper shoes, but not necessarily have the refinement or top-end raw materials of shoes above it.
£800 to £1500
The best among ready-made shoes, such as an Edward Green, or perhaps something with an altered last and hand-sewn welt, like Saint Crispin’s. The latter also enables you to pick your model, of course, but usually involves a wait in the making. This is perhaps the top level of shoe anyone would need – the question whether to go higher really being one of going bespoke or not.
£3000 to £5000
Bespoke shoes are great, but they are more prone to error and really reward you over the long term – when you buy more than one, and establish a relationship with the maker. If price were really no object, I’m sure I would buy bespoke – from the likes of Yohei Fukuda or Nicholas Templeman – but I would still buy some RTW. And in fact, would be more likely to do so on casual shoes, such as those listed in the capsule collection.
£500 to £1500
Certainly ready-made at this level, with perhaps some alterations on smarter overcoats. Private White VC would be my first port of call for any outerwear other than that tailored variety. The focus should be buying quality materials, and seeking versatile pieces that will go with everything.
£2000 to £3000
As this is the level I spend at, I’d certainly get the double-breasted overcoat made bespoke. Because it makes more difference with tailoring, and because I love the fit and look of a DB bespoke coat so much. But I’d be quite happy for the other, more casual jacket – a pea coat or a raglan perhaps – to be ready-made. The bespoke piece would be from the likes of Whitcomb & Shaftesbury.
£3000 to £7000
I would delight in having the top-end coat made by Cifonelli, Liverano or Michael Browne, all of whom I love. And I might still have the pea coat made bespoke – as I had made by Davide Taub. However, it would be helpful that price was no object, as I doubt I’d make all the design decisions correctly on that pea coat the first time. As I probably didn’t with that one.
£100 to £200
Of all the categories, knitwear is probably the one where budget makes the least difference. Certainly it’s not a choice among brands – more one among materials. So at this lowest budget level, I’d look more at shetland and lambswool, from the likes of Harley or Colhay’s, and only perhaps stray into cashmere with someone like Luca Faloni.
£250 to £400
The second budget level should be enough for me to buy any cashmere, outside of big brands. Which doesn’t mean I wouldn’t still want some shetland from a style point of view, but I’d happily shop the full range of Anderson & Sheppard knitwear, for example.
£500 to £1500
Not much would change if money was no object. I would perhaps buy the occasional hand-knitted piece, but that would be about it. The only possible exception would be Loro Piana, which is horrifically expensive but where the couple of pieces I do have (bought on sale) have aged wonderfully. Certainly better than other premium brands like Brunello Cucinello or Ralph Lauren Purple Label.
Similar to knitwear – once you have a decent silk and a slip stitching up the back, there isn’t much to be gained by a higher price. I’d stick around Drake’s and Shibumi. The same goes for handkerchiefs and scarves mostly.
Gains here in terms of raw materials, bespoke and maker. Level A might be a RTW rabbit, Level B a RTW beaver, and Level C a bespoke beaver. I’d just swap Level B for bespoke rabbit if your head is hard to fit, as mine is. You could get all three from the likes of Optimo.
Here the lowest level would probably be a wooden shaft but not single stick (so the handle is a separate piece), middle level a solid stick, and top level something fancy and made for you, from the likes of Michel Heurtault.
Where would you put Drakes / Anglo MTM – is it good enough for Level A (for the discerning Mr Crompton…)
I have yet to try either so I can’t really say I’m afraid.
I would second that Anglo-Italian MTM and Drake’s MTO are the two jacket reviews I’d be be most interested in reading on Permanent Style.
There’s a review of Anglo-Italian MTM here:
I love the style of their house cut but I can’t say I was overly impressed by the results. This guy still had to pay a local tailor to carry out alterations – at which point he must have been wondering whether it would have been cheaper and easier to get something altered off the rack?
While I don’t want to shield Anglo-Italian from criticism I would take a review from a newcomer and first time MTM customer with a massive pinch of salt. We don’t know exactly what and how things were agreed on during his order and most of the garment’s problems would’ve been very obvious during his first fitting. If the person you’re dealing with ignores the problems it’s upon you to point them out so they will correct them. Looking at the after pictures he wanted a more conservative suit with wider trousers, so why didn’t he clarify this? Normally he should have attended another trunkshow to talk to the A-I guys in order to improve things for future orders.
The long period between order, fitting and delivery combined with not picking it up in person is the exact reason why I would never order from a trunkshow as many things can change in over 6 months. Look at Simon’s suit with Moreau to see how things can be.
“If the person you’re dealing with ignores the problems it’s upon you to point them out so they will correct them.”
I disagree. A good salesperson is surely someone who points out the errors themselves and then immediately provides assurance that they’ll be fixed? This is certainly what I’d expect of a reputable tailoring house and certainly of someone charging the thick end of c.£1,500 for a MTM suit.
I don’t know the reviewer and have only ever purchased AI RTW (which I love) but reading that they tried to fob him off by claiming that rippling caused by poor fit would ‘smooth out with wear’ smacks of a burning desire to simply get the customer out the door and avoid the cost of further alterations.
I have tried Drakes tailoring and it is definitely not at the same level as Saman Amel or Orazio Luciano. But maybe Simon is too tough on what should be in Level A for jackets. I would say that Saman Amels cheaper line is Level A och his top line is very near Level B.
I would definitely agree, Carl. For 1200-1500 euro it’s a solid choice.
Simon, no mention of The Anthology or Prologue as an option here, any particular reason? Seems to me, at least on paper, a very solid lower budget option given your results.
Read the most a little more carefully, and the comments above JB…
This is not a list of recommended brands. That would include hundreds. The ones mentioned are just indicative of the quality/price we’re talking about.
Anglo / Italian MTM definitely strikes the right equilibrium between style, quality and price.
They have a superb selection of cloths and the owners have a great eye for both style and offer some unique colours.
They made me a SB 3 seasons births, deaths and marriages suit recently and it’s a complete killer and I recently bought their linen tennis blazer off the rack which I love to bits. It’s a real louche piece.
I can’t speak about dealing with them from overseas but in the U.K. their service is excellent. They delivered my MTM in under six weeks and it only needed a couple of minor alterations.
Definitely one for the discerning, thinking flaneur.
Agreed only had positive experiences with Anglo. For the price it’s fair, partially handmade, in Italy with a London friendly aesthetic. Tailoring is a process after all….
This is a very helpful article, thanks! I have recently shifted my focus from jackets and shirts (I suppose I have filled most gaps there for the time being) to trousers. I had two pairs made at W&S (very nice work) but can also say that Ede and Ravenscroft and Cordings are nice places to go to for the basics. Both will need adjustments (they are too wide for my taste) but are a reliable source for decent quality everyday trousers at a price level substantially lower than bespoke. For example, Ede currently have nice green flannels which I haven’t seen anywhere else RTW. I also think Pink have started doing some nice clothes, their formal shirts don’t speak to me, however.
Also, I seem to remember you had your W&S coat redone, did you post images anywhere?
No I didn’t. I’ll try to do that ahead of this Winter.
Very interesting article. I’m especially curious on the jacket, since this is the most expansive item on the list, and the one that makes to more sense to have bespoke.
I notice you only advise Michael Browne as English tailor, all other being Swedish, French and mostly Italian. W&S is being named as well “if these weren’t jackets aimed at being worn with jeans” (though in a price category B, which surprises me. In my memory their jackets starts way lower at around 1200-1300£. Is it because you would pick a pricier material, such as cashmere that you’ve put them in the 2400-3000£ bracket?)
Are english tailor in general not advised for jacket that work with jeans?
Actually, I mention Michael as a top-drawer tailor, but then also say I wouldn’t pick him for a jacket because he is more structured. That’s the same reason I say Whitcomb I wouldn’t pick as a tailor for this category either.
But that’s a good point on Whitcomb’s prices, yes. They are cheaper for their Classic Bespoke, because made in India, but not for their Savile Row bespoke product. As a level of product they also belong in this category.
Great piece! Also a lovely reference for future questions about budget.
It seems to me that with Level B you get the most bang for your buck as a connaisseur. With level A you still might feel as you’re missing out on something. Level C being that type of range when budget really is no issue and you can spend 20K upward per year on clothes. Or the occasional treat of course.
It certainly feels like the sweet spot for me. Though strictly speaking you probably get the biggest value for money with the lowest category in most areas
Simon, have you ever considered doing a series of articles on some of your readers? “Normal” people who dress for their own reasons and who aren’t involved in the clothing industry in one form or another? You’ve been running this blog for over a decade now and it will have influenced people who have had an interest before or who’ve started out with your blog sort of accompanying them.
We have occasionally Parker, but could certainly do more.
There are pieces like this one on reader Ned Brown, and his hats.
There is this one on Peter Zottolo and his clothes – active on Instagram but certainly not in the industry.
In that same vein, also this one on Gustaf, which is a good accompaniment, more dressy.
And finally, we did a couple of dinners with readers – see the first one here with a nice range of readers in their evening best. There was a separate post on their specific outfits here.
Ultimately gusvs is rather famous on instagram which will influence his approach and Peter Zottolo has been involved with styleforum.net for many years. What I mean are the people behind the screens without any form of presence on social media. The guy who orders a suit from Anderson & Sheppard once a year, who ordered something from a maker you’ve recommended or whom you’ve met during one of you pop-up stores, as you’ve often mentioned. Maybe like some of the guys at your Huntsman dinner. Give them a voice about how and why they dress, let them talk about their decisions on makers and maybe include a week of outfits. I’m sure Anda Rowland or other representatives will be aware of such people who have an interesting and maybe even small wardrobe but might be willing to let people have a peek, no matter if they’re doctors, lawyers, teachers or craftsmen. There are enough well polished influences, now let’s have a look at the real world.
Yes you’re right, and I know 30 or 40 readers like that.
The issue is that generally they don’t want to be photographed or have any personal details published. That was an issue with the Huntsman dinners.
But I guess the personal feedback and recommendations are still very useful – as we’re getting on this post already, in a few comments above.
I see your point but amongst those should be a handful who might we willing to share their views and insights. Most readers wouldn’t expect a sort of homestory but an anonymized photoshoot would certainly be possible. After all you work with a phtographer and one of the many tailors might be willing to lend their premises. Just think of the first few pages of the l’étiquette magazine adapted to a more PS approach.
While I appreciate the discussions on here it all remains awfully theoretical and hypothetical. Yes, you can buy many different and quality items via bespoke/MTM/MTO but that doesn’t guarantee a harmonic outfit let alone a well fitting one.
Those readers wouldn’t be willing to take part in anything like that, as I have asked. But more anonymous stories would be possible.
Of course, you only have to read comments on this post on others to hear from readers putting these points into practice, and making it more than theoretical.
Thanks Simon, your answers are appreciated. I understand their reasons perfectly well, we’re all in the same boat after all. Being well dressed and putting your face out there admitting to your own vanity are two entirely different things. Maybe you’re willing to keep this in mind as I think it would be very interesting and would add another dimension to your blog.
But you can’t see the results. If I told you I wore some chinos, an oxford shirt and a pair of cordovan loafers today this will result in everyone imagining me in a way he would prefer it to look like right down to the shade of blue of my shirt and the cream colour of my trousers.
True Parker, imagery does add a completely different dimension to it. You can learn about what people are buying and how they’ve built their wardrobes with text. But not about how they put it together.
I agree and support what Parker says. This could be very helpful for a lot of people! In case, given I also sometimes post my outfits on Instagram, I can help. I started like 8-10 years ago and built my closet (not really a “wardrobe” yet) little by little.
Thank you. I don’t have a problem with instagram at all it’s just that there’s always the same famous, semi-professional ones being named while we don’t see the whole picture.
Again, I think there is a way to make this work but to everyone’s benefit. In the early days of clothing blogs there were plenty of guys, often Japanese, who anonymized their blogs but put their oufits out there, some even on mannequins. Seeing people illustarte their own development in style and maybe give a few comments would be great. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would be interested in something like this.
A very interesting list. I’m not completely sure I agree with each of the exact price points (for example, I’ve not noticed any trousers at A&S in the “entry” price point and they sell a wide range of knitwear above the £400 mark) but I enjoyed the list and the thought process.
I think great articles would be exploring the categories in more detail (i.e. looking at what good options are and the ways in which they differ, perhaps with pictures supporting the stylistic differences in the real world). I also think as you explored the categories this would help people decide where to look when “stepping up” a level if they want something similar but better or something quite different as their style changes.
In respect of the list itself, the only think missing (for me) is suggestions in respect of summer hats, which I confess I’m more likely to make use of than something in beaver.
Yes, I can see that round-up articles on each category that looks at different brands would he helpful. I guess it would be replicating a little the content that’s already in articles on individual makers, and always attempts to put them in context, but still I can see it would be a good way in.
Another approach could be to add tags to the existing articles or Brands – Level A, B, C, or similar – that could then be used to filter search results or filter the Brands list.
Very good point Ben, and actually something I’m planning.
The idea is to break down the Brands page with several filters and categories: price, location, style and so on.
Let me know if there’s anything else you think it would be good to break that page down by.
Hi Simon, thanks as always for the article. I was wondering where you would put The Anthology in the jackets category? In terms of price I guess it is A?
Yes, I’d put them in that category
Like many other readers, I buy at very different levels, depending on the product: bespoke for jackets (but off the rack with alterations for unstructured jackets without canvassing), bespoke for an overcoat but private white level for anything else. I personally see no benefit to bespoke shirts or trousers; I typically buy MTM shirts from Proper Cloth and MTM trousers at Luxire. Level A for everything else. Lambswool or merino sweaters at 150 range, and cashmere sweaters from Luca Faloni (a little pricier).
Shoes in the 400-500 range, I might spring for a Level B pair at some point. I can’t see going above that. If the fit is good and the quality of materials is high, what’s the point in going bespoke for shoes, particularly given the the fact that it takes more iterations to get right than it does with a sports coat? Also, perhaps this is me, but I find bespoke shoes pictured on this website and elsewhere as overly stylized and perhaps even gauche. Bespoke, at its best, should impress at a more subtle level and should not scream for attention. There’s a fine line between being elegant and looking like a dandy or looking like you’re “trying too hard.”
Thanks, and really good, interesting breakdown.
Just on the shoes point, I do take your point with bespoke. It’s possible to have much more subtle bespoke, but there is also arguably less point if it’s not a smart, more shaped shoe.
However, you do get better make and materials with a £1000 shoe, over a £400 one. As you do with a £400 one over a £200 one.
Shoes are very subjetive. A well maintained pair of Loakes or any other decent entry level brand will serve you just as long as a pair of EGs and some people are perfectly fine with that while others will find it almost offensive. You just have to ask a few tailors what their products are occasionally paired with.
After all the variety of brands presented on here is usually quite narrow and limited to your/Simon’s preferenes which is perfectly alright. The offerings of most brands are very similar and if you’ve found a well-fitting last you can pick almost any model on it withour the need to look further as quality will be similar aswell. Brands like J.M. Weston or Ludwig Reiter will cater to a more regional clientele going for a certain aethetic but that’s down to taste and demand.
The title of the post mentions timelines, but the text doesn’t – is it as it’s supposed to be?
Yes, it’s more the idea that you can or should plan out this as a timeline, rather than something specific. I did consider plotting out an actual timeline for purchases, but it’s so dependent on your budget and what you already have, that it wasn’t that useful
Thanks so much, Simon, for another wonderful article.
I had been contemplating this very issue just last month as I am planning on building my wardrobe in the next years. What would be really helpful in terms of long-term budgeting would be a piece that deals with the issue of how frequently items need to be replaced.
Some rough guidelines would be really helpful, broken down to categories like suits, flannel trousers, cavalry twill trousers, shirts, shoes.
I realize that our lifestyles are all so different now, but I think there is still enough common ground among your readership that this would be feasible. Take e.g. someone who has to wear a suit twice a week, will dress smart casual the rest of the week and wear casual on the weekend.
Every reader could then scale this to their own individual situation.
Thanks Johan, but I do think this varies too much to be helpful. It depends on how long people wear their clothes during the day, how they commute, how much they wear their jacket during the day and so on.
Better, perhaps, to just talk about signs on clothing that suggest when they should be replaced?
I could not recommend Graham Browne more for bespoke overcoats in the Level A price bracket. I do have suits from Russell, which I like, but I think his cutting style is especially suited to overcoats. He made me a double breasted Polo Coat in a heavy navy wool and it is without a doubt my favourite piece of tailoring from anywhere! I think it was £1,100 or thereabouts which is cheaper than Private White would charge for the same item Ready to Wear.
I’d also add that the rule I’ve always personally followed is that your shoes should cost half as much as your suits – so if you’re buying Level A jackets I’d really recommend buying shoes at least in the £500-£800 bracket. At the bottom of that tier is C&J handgrade, Enzo Bonafe and Vass, at the top would be Foster’s new line or G&G’s classic range.
I found the discussion of what one gets at different levels quite useful, particularly the practical implications of it.
For umbrellas, you mention the details around the shaft construction. Do those different levels have any practical value? Is it a matter of aesthetics? Or is it purely something invisible that a wearer might appreciate in terms of craftsmanship?
A single-stick umbrella is stronger than one that isn’t. But it’s unlikely you’ll ever need that strength.
Also, higher end ones sometimes have more ribs, and those are fastened better, which can make a difference to longevity – as well as whether they turn inside out or not.
But it’s mostly aesthetics.
When I purchased my umbrella, I looked around and found out several umbrella makers advise against using anything else than a single-stick if you want to double down on a walking crutch when you’re not using your umbrella for its main purpose.
To me, this walking crutch function is valuable as, despite my rather young age, a leg I broke several years ago is prone to hurt during rainy days; in worst cases a crutch is welcome when I’m not actively needing protection from the rain (ie: once I’m inside the office building or a shop). Hence I decided to make the additional investment towards a single-stick from James Smith & Sons which was then cut to my size and don’t regret it.
So to me at least, it’s not “just” visual or craftsmanship; to another without the same needs, it might be.
In regards to Level C Jackets. You would not consider Liverano shoulders to be soft?
I have not had a chance to have my try-on for Liverano yet (thanks to the global pandemic). But I have received a couple jackets from Vestrucci. And I think I recall in the Guide to Tailors, that Vestrucci was a little lighter in the shoulder than Liverano but were similar in structure elsewhere. The Vestrucci jackets I have received are very soft relative to other tailoring I have. But I have not had a chance to try-on any of the Neapolitan jackets I ordered in January (again thanks to the pandemic), so I do not have the same sense of relative structure. I only have more English-styled jackets to compare.
Liverano is a little more structured than Vestrucci yes, but it’s also a lot about the style. The Liverano shoulder is a little wider, and the top half of the jacket a little smarter in cut.
It’s the reason I usually only recommend Neapolitan makers for a casual jacket like that.
Ah I see, that makes sense. There’s so many variables that can make a jacket smart or casual. When you look at it from the shoulders, as you’ve mentioned, I can definitely see what you mean how the the top half of their jackets do look smarter. Thanks for the perspective.
Really useful article Simon, thank you.
Anglo-Italian’s trousers are excellent and really not expensive considering the quality. And I’ve received terrific customer service there.
I have to second this, their trousers are terrific. Particularly for more athletic legs (ie, they have some room in the thigh). I’ve been very impressed with the amount of body both their summer and winter cottons have.
What are your thoughts on “mixing and matching” tailors for a full suit? An example would be a grey flannel suit, with the jacket made by Steven Hitchcock and matching trousers made by W&S. I love teh odd jacket Steven made for me last year but his work is at at the very top end of my price range (and I believe Steven’s trousers are around 1200 pounds). W&S has made great trousers for me in the past and the price range is substantially lower. Just curious of your thoughts. Thanks.
I think that would be fine Justin. Just make sure you’re getting the same ‘piece’ of fabric from the mill, to ensure the two are exactly the same colour. The easiest way to do that would be to be open with the tailors about what you’re doing – tell Steven you can only afford his tailoring if the trousers are made in India, so you’re using W&S for those. And order the cloth together.
Simon, where is the “timeline” you write in the title?
See comment above, A.
Great article Simon.
I have been thinking about trousers and having some made by W&S to go alongside those I have from A&S. This will be moving from thinking to doing as soon as restrictions around train travel change.
I haven’t really given much thought to overcoats previously. I have various RTW casual jackets, but am now tempted to go bespoke for a smarter coat.
Glad the plan is to grow a wardrobe over time, now need to start saving!
Where would Edward Sexton and Anderson and Sheppard tailoring fall? Level B with Level C prices? (Obviously Sexton particularly would be a tough match for jeans, but just in terms of quality.)
It’s impossible to put all the tailors in clean categories really. But Sexton would belong closer to Level C
Really useful. Thank you for this and the previous guide. I have always appreciated good clothes but only now in a position where I can start building a good quality wardrobe. I would put myself somewhere between Level A and Level B but I can see the wardrobe being built over the next few years.
I have been using your site and guides as a base for building my own wardrobe. I don’t have to wear a suit that often (although there will be a fair amount of travel in my new role) so have just ordered bespoke shirts and a pair of flannels from The Cad and the Dandy and been filling in my smart casual wardrobe using the capsule wardrobe as a guide and taking advantage of all the web sales at the moment.
I was tempted to order a brown tweed jacket or grey suit next but I am planning to order my first bespoke navy suit as a start to “proper” tailoring and can get the extras after that. The guides and site have been really useful for reference and stopping me making the errors that I imagine a lot of people have made when first venturing in to bespoke. I look forward to following and reading more in future.
Simon, this article has just explained to me where all my money goes! With each category I begin reading at level A and thinking ooh that is expensive. I then read recommendations and see I shop almost entirely with level B, but I have convinced myself they are cheaper than they really are! I then repeat this approach on the next category… and then the next. So this is also any excellent reality check for those of us who have long since bought the whole capsule wardrobe and a lot more besides.
There are however a couple I think genuinely are cheaper than these price points suggest e.g. Simone Abbarchi and Stoffa (in casual i.e. cotton fabrics). The problem is I think they are also a level above the (often more formal) RTW options in the lower category so I can see where you’ve had to draw bright lines but the reality is more blurry.
I do wonder how things will change if we start working from home more on an ongoing basis, will I buy less and move up to level C? Can I finally get that beautiful Liverano ulster coat I have been craving ever since your commission…
Yes you’re right, it’s necessary to draw the lines somewhere, but they always blur, particularly in different products from the same brands.
Hi Simon, this kind of article is a useful reference point. However, I would urge readers to shop ‘across’ the levels – my EG shoes fit as well (if not better) as my bespoke shoes and MTM trousers from Stoffa offer interesting fabrics and very good value for money compared to more expensive bespoke tailors. I really rate Rubinacci (bespoke jackets) is there any reason you haven’t listed them?
It’s not a list of recommended companies DE. That’s mentioned in the introduction
My bad Simon! Apologies – I seem to have started a thread of indignant patrons asking why their favourite supplier has been omitted!
Hi Simon, thank you this article is interesting as it made me reflect on my own tailoring journey. Since I started around 15 years ago, I have moved through all three levels and have had much different experiences at each.
I started at level A with Isaia MTM suits, Finamore MTM shirts and Crockett and Jones shoes. I purchased the former two from a shop in Southern Italy where I got very good service and where the price point was much lower than what either brand is currently selling for in London. I was very happy at this level; while there were some issues with imperfect fit and I did not have the experience of interacting with artisans, I was under no illusion I was getting bespoke and I knew I wasn’t paying bespoke prices.
I then moved up to Level B around 8 years later with Solito and Vergallo suits/jackets; Luca Avitabile shirts and Gaziano Girling MTM shoes. My annual clothing budget increased considerably as a result, but I was not satisfied with any of them. After my initial excitement wore off, I was not happy with the fit of any of these three makers (from my experience, many bespoke makers still don’t get fit right), I had lots of problems with reliability (garments being made not as ordered, delays, lots of excuses) and I didn’t feel like I was getting good advice. Perhaps these are individual problems related to those 4 makers, but despite spending much more, I was not happy at this level because I didn’t feel like I was getting something that was much better than what I previously bought for much less money.
Around 3 years ago, I moved up to level A with Ferdinando Caraceni suits/jackets, Siniscalchi shirts, and Stivaleria Savoia shoes. I am by far the happiest at this level because I feel like I get the best value for money by a long measure, even though I am spending considerably more than at level B. The fit of all 3 makers is consistently perfect; all are very reliable; I get excellent advice on cloth, style, and what to wear for what occasion; and the after-purchase service is top notch (and usually free, unless you need significant work done). Perhaps these are some of the reasons why all have been in business for a few generations.
I am sure other readers’ experiences will be very different from mine, and I wanted to share my thoughts on my experience trying each of these three levels and is still learning a lot along the way.
Thank you, and that’s very useful. I know we’ve talked about this a little in person before.
I think it’s interesting that service and reliability are not consistently better across price brackets, yet people often assume they will be. It might be partly cultural, partly the type of company, partly the fact that some are producing a cheap version of a top-end product, even if their product is not actually that cheap.
Also I find that many, as they go through this process, value things like consistency and relationship more and more.
As for differences in service and reliability, I am sure those are all factors and I also have the impression that some tailors take on more clients than they can manage (especially when they start travelling), and the quality and service level suffers as a result.
As you suggested, I definitely value the the relationship I have developed with Nicoletta Caraceni and Alessandro Siniscalchi, the advice I get from them, and the reliability of those houses more and more as I go on. For me, those elements probably the biggest difference from what I have experienced previously.
This is fantastic information and extremely useful, thank you.
Hi Simon, I’m surprised that you haven’t listed Prologue? Any particular reason?
This isn’t a list of all the brands in each category Henry, as mentioned at the start. If it was, it would require 20 or 30 to be mentioned in some categories
Thanks for the list, Simon. I noticed you left out Solito and Dalcuore. What level would you put them in? Also, what level would you put C & J Hand grade?
I didn’t leave them out Dan – as mentioned in the introduction, this is not a review of brands in every category. The ones mentioned are just indicative of the quality level we’re talking about. They’d be Level B – bespoke but not the top end.
C&J Handgrade would be between Level A and B.
Which shoes are you wearing in the picture of you standing on the steps?
Masaru Okuyama bespoke – see post here
I believe I have an easy to fit into RTW body – I wear suits/jackets from mid-quality brands (from SuitSupply to Caruso). While not moving much these jackets fit pretty well. Thus, I conclude that the beauty for bespoke in my case is improving fit while moving – such as chest stays in place, collar sticks to the neck. As I really hate collar gaps, especially the latter is crucial for me.
Though, I`m not sure if bespoke really fixes this. As unfortunately I have no people wearing bespoke around me, I`m left at looking at pictures and preferably videos of men I know wearing bespoke to examine fit of their garments.
I`d like to pick out an example: Matteo Marzotto – well-know Italian style-icon (I like his classic, yet contemporary relaxed style). Most of his suits are bespoke (he told in an interview with FAZ).
I watched a video of him recently (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNnSjrO15Gc, from min 2:34) where his suit shows an obvious collar gap (there are more videos/pics with different suits – my impression is that there`s a certain amount of collar gap almost anytime when he`s moving arms; and this is not only an issue with Mr. Marzotto, pictures of other men wearing bespoke show this too, even in your videos, Simon, I sometimes have that impression).
Is this just a case of “poor” bespoke or are my expectations on bespoke too high in this regard?
Your expectations certainly aren’t too high Phil. Bespoke should fix that. But there are also different qualities of bespoke, and some aren’t perfect, despite using that handmade process.
Also, it can happen that the collar fit is affected by changes in weight. Eg as you lose weight you tend to lean your body forward slightly. So maybe they are old jackets that need an alteration in that regard. (Easy alterations being one small advantage of bespoke)
I didn’t realize that weight loss causes you to lean forward slightly. Perhaps that explains the appearance of a collar gap in some of my jackets that I hadn’t noticed before. My weight loss has been only ten pounds at the most. Can this relatively small amount of weight loss cause a slight forward lean?
It depends a little on your other figuration. Normally it would be more than that I think
I’ve had similar issues in that I’ve not got anyone around me who wears bespoke. The introduction shots on Simon’s videos often include stretches of him in motion, though, which I found helpful to see
Thank you again for another informative and enjoyable article. It has helped me refine my thoughts further.
A couple of jacket-related questions, acknowledging that it needs to be read in conjunction with the accompanying article). The suggestion there was that a Naples style jacket will be most flexible, as it can be worn with jeans etc.
(i) you have mentioned Prologue as providing a casual Southern Italian style, semi-bespoke. Could they fit in here?
(ii) Anglo Italian seems to have a MTM offering and I know use them for trousers and would seem to be a similar price point to Saman Amal and JM Moreau. Do you (or any readers) have any experience of them?
i) Yes they would
ii) See comments above – others have commented on Anglo-Italian. I’m in the process of having something made. The make isn’t at the same level as Moreau or top-end Saman Amel, but the taste level is very high
For jackets being worn with jeans, you mentioned that there are no soft shoulders other than from Naples…just wondering, would Steven Hitchcock not fit in here, as I’ve seen some 3 roll 2 jackets with patch pockets on his instagram, or is this STILL not casual enough given the shape with the waist suppression etc.
Your blog is airways a pleasure to read and very informative. I would be keen to get your thoughts on Steven as well.
I love Steven’s work, but no it’s not casual enough to be worn with jeans for me. There are so many elements to it – have a look at the fronts, for example, and how straight and sharp they are. This is tailoring built for elegance, not for denim
Great work, Simon – love these sorts of pieces!
I do think though that this article would benefit greatly from the inclusion of an additional category that is at least as important as, say, umbrellas: *leather goods*.
In the context of the sort of quality you deal with, I think there are two clear tiers:
1. Solidly and honestly made, machine-stitched pieces made from good but not necessarily the most premium leathers, and with limited customization options. So, Frank Clegg and…I don’t know who else. £500-1,000 for a briefcase and something like £200 for a wallet.
2. Fully hand-stitched, made from the finest leathers in the world in their respective categories, and highly customizable. Bespoke, if you will. So, Equus, Ortus, etc. £2,500+ for a briefcase.
Full disclosure: I’m the guy who emailed you suggesting further collaborations with Equus, so I’m not exactly unbiased to be sure!
Harley Shetland sweaters – All Blues Co in Leeds have some fantastic sale offers on at the moment. Search @allbluesco on Instagram (no web shop) – ship worldwide and superb customer service from Mano 👍🏻
Interesting comment on Ambrosi, I recall there was some inconsistent measurements / fit in your experience. I would have expected to see Marco or Pommella as a result. Do you generally prefer Ambrosi?
The issue historically with Salva was service and consistency more than anything else. His eye for fit is good, and I recently tried him again as he said he had improved the service side. The result was very good, particularly the fit – hence the mention of it here
Speaking of shoes, what’s your opinion, if any, about Antonio Meccariello bespoke and Scheer bespoke?
Neither get much mention here but both are, I think, among the very finest makers.
I’m afraid I haven’t tried either Jake, so can’t comment much
Simon re Knitwear at what level do you rank Johnstons of Elgin, John Smedley and Turnbull and Asser’s?
There isn’t much difference between them – it’s mostly materials you’re buying for there, as mentioned. Lambswool, Shetland, cashmere etc
Plus Smedley is only fine gauge, Johnstons usually only thicker
I missed Marco Cerrato for trousers in Level C, why not your choice?
Peter, please read some of the comments above. This is not a list of recommended brands. Those mentioned are not there as my favourites – explaining which were, on different grounds, would take a lot more space. Thanks
Thank you so much for this article, not to mention the other wonderful work that has gone before it. I have recently decided to update my entire wardrobe and I am currently in the planning stage. This article will save me £1000’s and who knows how important that will be in a Post-Covid world.
many humble thanks and I hope you stay safe!
Oh good, that’s so lovely to hear Liam. I hope the process is fun and fruitful!
Hi Simon- enjoyed the article and photos immensely. I’m sure I’ll re-read this a few times as well- like a good book!
Pleased to hear it Jay – it’s so nice to build up this kind of content over time, and collect it all in the Guides too. A nice contrast to social media!
Simon, I know this is not a comprehensive rating of all brands but I was wondering where you’d put Saman Amel in knitwear and also why they were not mentioned. I thought they had a unique offering (MTM) and you thought sufficiently highly of their fit and materials to earn an explicit mention in either Class B or A.
It’s a good point on MTM Ajay – I guess I don’t see that as important a differentiator as it is in talking or shirts, for example, and so didn’t include that.
Got it. Thank you. Looking back at the Saman Amel knitwear review you did just now, early in the piece you say, “knitwear is probably the hardest thing to find a good fit for.” So given that, is it a case of Saman Amel delivering something that is in a sense quite differentiated (i.e. that hard-to-find good fit) but relatively unimportant on an overall wardrobe basis?
Yes, I think so
Simon is Sartoria Caliendo VERY different in terms of quality and finish than Sartoria Solito?
Its hard to say what ‘very’ would equate to, but I do think it’s significant, yes
Have you ever considered introducing a marketplace for your readers here?
Many readers will have garments that they rarely wear that are of superb quality but are not worth selling on eBay or anywhere because the manufacturer is rather unknown to most people. Hardly anyone will run a search on eBay for all tailors coming to their mind so people will search for tailoring brands like Attolini, Rubinacci, etc. at most. You have quite a big platform here and I am sure I have things in my wardrobe that someone else will appreciate more than me and vice versa. Maybe it is worth a thought.
We did actually start something along those lines recently, with readers sending pieces into Marrkt in order to appear in the pop-up shop. Of course that last pop-up never happened.
Perhaps we should just create a permanent part of that site for these pieces…
I noticed there’s no mention of Rota. Do you have any experience with them? I find their RTW pricing affordable. You can even configure your own design and have them hemmed with you preferred inseam and cuff width.
I do, they make the shorts I designed for the PS shop, for example.
Their quality is good, though the designs are sometimes a bit too young Italian.
This is unbelievably helpful. Would you recommend sticking with Neapolitan odd jackets for more casual and/or country usage? Does something like a hacking jacket from the likes of Huntsman work here? It seems their iconic fabrics are tweeds but their house cut is very stuctured, so I can’t figure out how they’re supposed to be worn.
Also, how would you compare the formality of the drape cut with a more military inspired cut?
Is it fair to say that a military cut is more formal than the drape cut, and both work best as worsted business suits? Then a Neapolitan is a little more casual than a hacking jacket, but both work best in other materials, maybe as separates, and to be work for casual/country use? Are there other styles to think about, maybe from Paris, Milan, or Florence?
Pleased to hear it Nate.
In my opinion and experience, a hacking jacket in a military cut is made for an era where country clothes largely involved a shirt and tie, and tailored trousers. When everyone dressed in that fashion, country clothing could be indicated largely by the materials used, not the cut or structure.
That period has largely gone, making those clothes less relevant.
The drape cut is usually more casual than a structured, military one, but it’s still a good deal smarter than the Neapolitan cut.
So yes you’re right in your comments, except that I’d say a hacking jacket is hard to wear today casually for the reasons mentioned above.
There are certainly other styles, but if you want detail on all of them, maybe best to read the Style Breakdown series of articles on here
where do you see the difference in quality between Luca Faloni (A) and Anderson & Sheppard (B) knitwear? In which category would you place John Smedley (and why)?
I wouldn’t say there is a big quality difference – the extra price is largely heavier knits (so more cashmere), the lovely physical A&S shop, and in some cases there is a style difference, between Italian and English makes (see here). Faloni is all Italian, A&S a mix.
Smedley is level A to B, really depending on the materials. Their merino is good, without being the finest, leaning towards A. But they do some silk/cashmere as well
Hi simon, what is your opinion of having something like this (https://thearmoury.com/collections/sport-coats/products/wool-silk-linen-twill-model-11-sport-coat?variant=31842066530375) as a second sport coat after navy?
I think that cloth would be nice.
The style of the jacket is a little unusual, as the text explains, but if you like it then yes definitely
How does The Armoury in house collection shoes sit in term of quality? Is it on par with Carmina/CJ?
I’m not sure to he honest – it’s been a while since I’ve looked closely at them
I have the Gloucester Wingtip in Black Calf, which I bought at the PS pop-up when they had just come out – must’ve been 2-3 years ago. I also own 2 pairs of C&J mainline shoes which I’ve had for longer, and I’d say the Armoury ones are marginally above – but when I say marginal, its very marginal.
They certainly aren’t on a par with Fosters or Edward Green – and probably not C&J handgrade. More importantly though, they have a very very distinctive style – which I love – but I would recommend taking the decision based on whether you like the Hajime last, rather than any minor difference in quality.
Hey nick, I own all three (carmina/cj/armoury) and can say quality is about the same with the exception of carmina and armoury having channeled soles. I think one think in considering the Armoury shoes is the last shape. I have a pair (Wyndham) and I find the last pretty sleek (sharpish/long) like the carminas and hence more formal than the crocketts (mine is a Cavendish).
Hey nick, I own all three (carmina/cj/armoury) and can say quality is about the same with the exception of carmina and armoury having channeled soles. I think one think in considering the Armoury shoes is the last shape. I have a pair (Wyndham) and I find the last pretty sleek (sharpish/long) like the carminas and hence more formal than the crocketts (mine is a Cavendish).
For ties you mention Drake’s and Shibumi. When I explore both of their websites, they seem heavy on the unlined, hand rolled edge ties. While I recognize these are fashionable and hand-rolled edges seem to be a mark of higher end ties, they don’t work well in my buttoned up, conservative legal practice over in America. In fact, I can’t say I recall ever seeing anyone wear one. I prefer to be the guy that is subtlety dressed well, not someone who stands out. Do you have any brands you would recommend that have a wider selection of lined ties. Thanks.
E Marinella, HN White, Charvet, Turnbull & Asser?
Thank you as always!
you wrote that you’d choose Whitcomb & Shaftesbury if a jacket wasn’t intended to be worn with jeans. Why is that? I’ve looked at W&S because of their accessibility being in London, yet being quite affordable. I do like the Neapolitan style but I imagine it harder to acquire in terms of travelling to Naples compared to London.
Because the more English cut and structure that Whitcomb use isn’t really suited to jeans. It’s too formal.
There are lots of Neapolitans that travel to London now, so you wouldn’t have to travel to Naples – merely coordinate any trip to London to see one of those.
Of course, the problem at the moment is that most aren’t travelling because of the virus. But hopefully some will in the Autumn
Hi Simon, after visiting A & S website it seems that their trousers now start at £395 and go upwards from there (level B). I dont know if this is a recent increase in price after this article was published or not, but with this in mind would you now say that W & S and Stoffa now offer better value for money?
Not necessarily, it’s only a small change.
I’d also argue that with a small change like that, other things remain more important. Like style, cloth available, accessibility. These brands are quite different on that
Hi Simon, do you know where I should go to buy shirts in Paris ? (with 150e/shirt)
I feel it’s really hard to find the right one because i’m 1m72 and 60kg, I go to Lanieri to buy shirts (made-to-measure), I don’t know if there is a better place.
As you said, it’s too expensive too buy bespoke shirts, going to Courtot is a little bit too expensive for me. But why not buying just “one shirt”.
I’m afraid I don’t know Paris well enough to say, sorry Vincent. I’m sure you’ve probably seen it, but there is some information in the Paris guide and its comments here
In Category B in Shoes, fit being a first priority, what about Gaziano & Girling RTW or even MTO. Factoring their good aftercare into consideration here.
Their Bespoke is now an eye watering £6240 Inc VAT starting price. I think Daniel Wegan is actually cheaper on bespoke… unless you know better Simon!!!
G&G MTO does provide some options to improve the fit (mine had an altered instep and are therefore quite a bit more comfortable than many shoes).
I’ve tended to stick with EG but there is an improvement in fit for me via MTO. A different style though, which I think is worth bearing in mind.
I’d be interested in your views on J Press shirts. I’m looking for button-downs with a really nice roll. Are their’s still any good?
I don’t know I’m afraid Jamie, I haven’t tried them
Do you have any ideas for Neapolitan jacket makers who travel to NYC/northeast US, ideally at level B? W&S is amazing for business suits but I’m hesitant to ask them to make me anything too far removed from their house cut/style.
Thanks so much.
I’m not that familiar with everyone that currently travels (outside the existing restrictions) but Solito certainly does
To clarify on wording — do you mean you would personally go for bespoke shoes or RTW if you want a capsule wardrobe and are aiming for two pairs of shoes (dark brown suede loafers + dark brown derby) in your capsule collection article?
I think the question of RTW or bespoke is a little separate to the capsule one.
Obviously budget is an issue, and then if there is any limit at all, what the budget is spent on. I would always advise buying bespoke tailoring before bespoke shoes, for example. If you can afford bespoke easily, then I’d just warn that the first pair may not fit better than RTW, and it could take another pair or two before you’re really happy with the fit – bespoke is a long-term game, for me.
Thanks for another excellently detailed article. Just a few questions:
How do most people manage to pay for these items? Even the ‘lower-end’ options are easily far out compared to what I’ve seen before (as someone used to seeing less pricey MTM/RTW options). Does one take out loans, or save for a while before committing to a purchase?
Also, would you say that there is a significant quality difference between mid-level MTM and bespoke?
Is there a significant difference in longevity or comfort between perceived ‘material quality’ (such as the differences between grades of leather, wool, etc.)?
To what extent does the concept of ‘you get what you pay for’ still apply in this day and age?
Is it possible to mechanize some tasks to cut costs (while compromising little on ‘quality’ of the final product)? Some ‘traditional’ processes might have the potential to be scaled up/optimised with modern technology while still producing the same effects.
Thanks again for any response.
Budget is always an issue, but bear in mind this site really only covers the finest clothes out there – we can’t cover everything, so this is what we focus on. But yes, people do save, and buy less. Getting one jacket or suit a year is pretty normal, for example.
Between mid-level MTM and bespoke, yes there definitely can be. But both of those vary in quality too, so it’s not always the case. Bespoke in particular is a method, not a guarantee of quality using that method.
You get the company you pay for. If you buy a big brand, you pay for marketing a lot more. If you pay for a smaller, craft-based company, you get more quality, but then also sometimes a little less design etc
These are all big questions, but the last is maybe the biggest. Perhaps have a look at our Guide to Quality for more there.
I really like your work and thank you for spreading your knowledge in bespoke tailoring. I am currently looking to invest in a good bespoke overcoat. I find that I will wear a coat more often than a suit, which makes it logical to get a bespoke coat before a suit. I was wondering if you could mention some tailors who offered great value at a lower (~2000 euro/gbp) price point. I know that you mentioned whitcomb and shaftesburry, are there more tailors in that segment that you can recommend in Europe?
Sounds like a good decision. There aren’t many, no, as really for bespoke to cost that much you’ve got to be saving significant money somewhere – with Whitcomb, it’s making mostly in their workshop in India.
However, I would suggest looking at HK tailors like Prologue or The Anthology for that price point, or high-end made to measure, from the likes of Saman Amel or Jean-Manuel Moreau. It’s not the same as bespoke, but if this is your first piece like this, it might suit you well
I am very late to this post, but have found this an immensely helpful guide in building the crucial blocks of my budding wardrobe: I recently purchased three pairs of Berg & Berg trousers after reading your review and exploring the company’s raison d’être, so my thanks.
While trousers in band A are attainable to those in the early stages of their career, I am afraid that the price for jackets starts rather high. I appreciate that PS discusses products of a certain quality, but I wondered if you might have one or two recommendations for RTW jacket makers, especially those who deal in tweed, that might be more affordable to those who aspire to wear such beautiful items, but don’t have the money to do so just yet.
Thank you for your time, the comments section is always as useful as the text itself.
It’s lovely to hear that Tim.
Yes, jackets are rather more expensive, but I also think it’s something worth spending more money on – same with shoes. You get better quality with your money generally, compared to say shirts of knitwear.
I don’t cover RTW jackets really, but if you’re interested in assessing the quality of something you’re looking at, this piece might be worth reading.
Thank you, Simon. I’m grateful for your response and advice. Indeed, I have my eye on several pairs of shoes from Northampton and support the maxim ‘you get what you pay for’ wholeheartedly.
Looking forward to future posts, thank you for sharing your knowledge!
next year I am hopefully going to take a front office internship at a large bank either in London or Milan. I was looking to buy a second pair of dress shoes (I already own black derbies) and I particularly like quarter brogue black oxfords, do you think that they would be appropriate? I think they would be a little bit more interesting but I’m not completely sure whether plain toe would be a better choice.
It’s very hard to say Alexander, as institutions like that vary so much. But if you only have two pairs of shoes, I’d suggest you should err on the safe side and go with a plain toe
Love these slightly more comprehensive guides for how to spread cost and such, only wish the shape of my feet allowed for many rtw shoes. Hopefully when things begin to open again I can start exploring better fits, I do love your saint crispens after all.
How do you budget for clothes? I would be considered a high income earner but even Level A above seems very dear to me!
I’ve been looking at Loake shoes but they come in half the price of CJ…hopefully the quality is ok.
CJ would be very fancy for me already!
Loake are good, C&J better, Edward Green better still. With most Northampton makers you get what you pay for, essentially.
In terms of budgeting, I think it’s a combination of saving up for clothing – not buying anywhere near as much as most people do, and as most people expect you to do – and of the cumulative effect of a good wardrobe. These prices look a lot when you don’t have many good shoes. They don’t when you have most of the bases covered (after a few years)
if you’re on the budget, loake are great! especially for the price you can find them occasionally! but only 1880 (or above). as far as cheaper loake lines go, I much prefer meermin. (and if you’re in UK and on SUPER budget, comb tk maxx reasonably frequently. i got lucky enough to find 2 pairs of 1880 at about 70% off RRP.
Big fan of PS and have been using it as something of a sartorial bible recently. Hope you don’t mind me asking a rather personal question about choosing a tailor.
I’m about to buy my first bespoke (or MTM) Jacket. I’m in my late 20’s and don’t require a suit at this stage. I’m training to be a psychotherapist so I might never need one. However, the idea of having a few tailored jackets and pairs of trousers I find thoroughly appealing. Still, I like to dress in a way that I would describe as combining Ivy league and heritage with a touch of the rock n roll. I’m trying to smarten up a bit too with a bit of classic menswear elegance, especially as my career broadens and deepens I feel I ought to look smarter. Hence the bespoke commission – but I don’t want to entirely rule out wearing jeans with it!
So… I am talking to Whitcomb and Shaftesbury (on your many glowing recommendations) and I do like the English drape cut, especially with a slight shoulder roll; I think it’s such a beautiful, subtle detail that really makes a jacket almost glow with elegance. Suresh at W&S assured me that a casual cloth – harris tweed or the like – and a few tweaks and they can produce the perfect jacket to be worn with flannels and shirt or with jeans and a t-shirt. Is this likely to be a hard sell that you would tell me to steer clear of for a first commission or do you think W&S is such a safe bet for a first commission that I ought to go for it?
Would I be better off going down a more MTM route such as Saman Amel? Or somewhere the like?
Any word you could offer would be appreciated
It sounds like you have this well thought through, and it’s great to be investing in one or two smarter pieces.
However, no I don’t think Whitcomb is a good option for this. They’re not lying to you, they just disagree with me, but I would never wear that style of tailoring with jeans or a T-shirt. It’s too smart, no matter how much padding you take out, or what the material.
If you want something that versatile, then yes Saman Amel would be better, or a Neapolitan tailor like Ciardi.
Hi there Simon
Thank you for taking the time to respond – it is much appreciated and my apologies for such a late response. After submitting my email, I assumed I’d get a notification if the thread was continued. That’s what I get for having allowed a vague interest to become an obsession and spending far too much time on StyleForum during lockdown!
I think I’ll put a pin in Whitcomb and come back to them in a couple of years. I would be allowing my wanting something English and bespoke to trump all other considerations (style, purpose etc. etc.)
I hope you don’t mind me asking more on this topic. Hopefully the following questions might be broader and informative to other people on a similar budget to me too. I’m not as high income as many of your readers but I’m given to wanting to spend on quality. The Toscana range from Saman Amel might be a little out of your frame of reference but do you know how the Toscana might compare to say, the fully MTM jacket at Anglo-Italian? The pricing is similar.
I think I’d rather pay a little extra and go fully bespoke than get Samen Amel’s Napoli line, but for the busy man on a budget looking for entry grade, the Toscana caught my eye and its certainly a toss up between Samen Amel and Anglo-Italian. What would you recommend?
Stylistically too, I love the casual elegance of the Neapolitan cut and how it can be dressed up and down with ease. But I also prefer the British aesthetic in terms of general feel. When it comes to rope on the shoulder, is that something that you think can be done with an soft neapolitan jacket to create a little British intrigue or would you say that they were simply contrasting styles and would be less hybrid and more total clash?
No worries Jackson, and you’re right, it’s never a problem to respond to questions like these because so many other readers benefit from seeing them.
I do think that would be too much of a clash, yes. Especially given you are not too far on your sartorial journey, and budget is an issue. Buy a style from someone that you like, and don’t try to change it. There’s too big a danger that you’ll end up with a mixture that you couldn’t quite envisage and don’t end up liking.
I would recommend the Saman Amel on fit, but I would say that style is always the most important thing, so if you’re unsure, I’d look at the styles of each maker and work out which you feel best represents what you’re looking for.
Solid advice! Thanks a lot, Simon. I have taken note.
I just discovered your website and I’m so addicted!! However, like most people in the UK, my income is light years away from affording this kind of clothing for my entire wardrobe right away. Nonetheless, would like to start building up a wardrobe based on quality rather than quantity.
I am due to start an entry-level civil service job next year. From what I heard, the type of job is mostly smart casual, so the chinos/separates and jacket/blazer combination plus smart shirt is what is mostly needed plus the odd smart suit for special presentations, but not really a priority.
At the moment, I own a few pieces from brands you wouldn’t be caught dead in, I guess (1 grey and 1 sand chinos from TM Lewin, 1 black suit from Hawes & Curtis, 1 navy blazer from Hawes & Curtis.
Where do you advise me to start. I have been thinking 2 bespoke flannel trousers form Withcomb and shaftsbury, 2 chinos from Anglo-Italian, or Berg & Berg, 1 dark brown oxfords from Edward green and 1 bespoke grey blazer from GB.
I am not too sure I am choosing the right pieces…..Please I would love to read your thoughts.
Say with a budget of 3000 pounds.
It sounds like you’re on the right path.
I would suggest starting with a pair of flannels, yes, and perhaps a pair of high-twist grey trousers for warmer weather. These could be bespoke, but given your limited budget I would try to find these RTW with a few adjustments, or MTM at the most. Berg, Drakes or Anglo might be good for that.
For shoes, maybe dark-brown loafers and oxfords, but start with Crocketts maybe, again given budget.
The place to spend more is the jacket, but you will probably want something softer than GB, so I would go for Anglo or another soft MTM.
Do have a read of all the other chapters in the wardrobe building section of the site too.
I’m completely new to the idea of being more intentional with the way I dress, but am still looking at the Level A category. You mentioned that you would only venture into cashmere from the likes of Luca Faloni. It would be great if you could please elaborate on that a bit more? Do you think that their cashmere is very good at that price point regardless of them being a more “budget” option, or do you simply just think of them as a “budget” option where the only consideration is the low price? Rather, do you consider them very good “value” in that you’re getting an extremely good/elevated product with a reasonable price tag? Also, what are your opinions of the shirting by Luca Faloni? Particularly, I’m interested in their linen shirts. Is it a similar value proposition to their cashmere items? Do you find that they’re well made and are worth a spot in a man’s summer wardrobe? Thanks!
I think Luca Faloni is good value, and I think if you’re trying to build up a decent wardrobe quite quickly, that’s the level I’d be looking at.
The Faloni shirts are OK, but I wouldn’t buy them firstly because they have small collars and short tails, so they’re not good to wear with tailoring. And because I would have my shirts made. Someone like Simone Abbarchi does good MTM shirts for around 150 euros, and there are good online options these days as well.
Who would you recommend for good online options please?
I haven’t tried them personally I’m afraid, but perhaps someone like Proper Cloth in the US
Are you saying that Proper Cloth is going to be a better option than Luca Faloni?
It depends, there are a lot of factors there.
The one I’m focusing on is that the Faloni shirts are not designed for tailoring and don’t work so well with it. So if you want that, as I do, then I’d have them MTM.
Could you comment on the quality of the shirts themselves? The fabric and construction, specifically. Personally, I’m not looking to wear these specific shirts with any form of tailoring, but more so as a lightweight shirt option in the warmer summer months. Assuming they’re going to be worn as stand alone casual shirts, do you think the linen shirts from Luca Faloni offer a similar level of value comparable to their cashmere knitwear? You mentioned that their cashmere is a good option if you’re trying to build up a decent wardrobe quite quickly, do you think the same could be said for their linen?
I can’t I’m afraid, because I don’t own either.
But yes, I’d still say the Faloni ones are a good option if you want a casual shirt – not with tailoring, and importantly untucked.
I would agree with Simon about Proper Cloth, but will expand a bit. If you are going to do the whole process online, I think Proper Cloth is hard to beat. I have a number of shirts from them, both tucked and untucked, and I have to say that it is a smooth process.
The best part is that on any garment you can contact them, send pictures, even setup a virtual fitting and they will remake the garment for free. I started by doing a couple of articles of clothing where I based the measurements off of something I already had, and then contacted them asking for a consultation (via email at that time, but now they’ll do video calls). I have to say they nailed the smaller details in the remake (adjusting the width of the yoke, sleeve length, waist, and hip measurements).
Otherwise, I’d suggest seeing who travels near you. I’d suggest that anyone that can visit Divij Bespoke – https://www.divij.com do so. It’s not true Bespoke, but they claim to have an option with hand made patterns for suits and they will do one basted suit fitting. More akin to some of the oversees bespoke/detailed MTM options. In any case, I have shirts from Divij and have been really happy with them.
Lastly, I have to say the shirts offered by Simon here on Permanent Style are quite good and I’d hold them up to most MTM options. Yes, it feels like a lot for RTW shirts, but I found the armhole to be even smaller than my bespoke and MTM shirts (my only issue is that I’m between sizes, but nothing a tailor couldn’t adjust).
Very helpful Alex, thanks
Thanks Alex for your personal experience with Proper Cloth.
1.) I would like to ask for some reassurance please: I stopped buying RTW jackets over a year ago in order to safe up for a first true core bespoke item like the basic navy wool jacket (neapolitan make). But I am still tempted sometimes by higher quality RTW jackets (Ring Jacket, Orazio Luciano…). Along the principles outlined in this post we should say, that it is simply not a good idea to buy RTW tailored jackets. The only reason I can think of (apart from price) is that you want to try a style or an item that is pretty unusal and that you are not going to wear often. But other than that: there is no way around going at least with a good MTM product.
2.) Off topic, I apologize: I enjoy the yellow PS oxford shirt I received last week. Compared to my PS denim shirt it feels a bit restrictive in the chest and upper arm. Would you expect this to get better with wash and wear along with the softening of the fabric?
Thanks for your thoughts!
Yes, I think your analysis in (1) is spot on. The only thing to add is that RTW will become a better option the more regular a shape you are.
On the Oxford, no I’m afraid if anything the shirt will shrink a tiny bit, as mentioned on the product page. I’m sorry if that means it is too tight. It will certainly soften though.
Hi Simon, can you suggest some coat brands for the level a ? I dont like so much the style of the private white, i like more hippie/ bohemian style cause i never wear jackets and rarely shirts, but id like something i could wear everyday.
I’m not sure what you mean by hippie/bohemian style – could you give me some examples?
I like for example the coat of samanamel but i dont know of anyone that had id. I like your raglan too, maybe a little shorter. My first priority would be something too formal, cause i almost never dress too formal. Since you are also a fan of samanamel, would you buy something like that for everyday use ?
Not to wear with jeans probably, no.
I wondered what you wear for very cold weather when a large thick overcoat is not suitable. For instance for out and about in town/country.
what I wondered is what you use for down jackets. Or it’s non down counterpoint
It’s a question that has come up a lot recently, particularly as the weather has got colder. I’ll be doing a piece on my down parka soon to answer them
I wanted to write to you, to say thank you for your insights and the work that you do. Over the last five years I have gone from being from a clueless country lad, who did not care about fit, feel or clothing at all, to understanding fit, feel and form that has enabled me reach the top of my profession. I am sure that this is in part to the guidance and information I have received from the site, and your personal recommendations as-well as very hard work and knowing what I am doing, simply put the package on the outside now matches the inside!!! I used to warn people I am very much “Barbour than Burberry” I did not know my hopsack from my houndstooth, these days, I am please to say I more Bespoke than ever, while really enjoying the whole process and the artisans met along the way, over the last year alone, I have had eleven bespoke suits made, thirty five shirts, smart casual jackets, trousers, overcoats and leather goods etc etc. This article has been the main focus having the best things I can made, highlights are Whitcomb and Shaftesbury, Luca Avitabile, 100 Hands and Equus Leather, I 100% recommend them for anyone else.
So thank you Simon and your team for the work you are doing,
Amazing, I’m so, so pleased
I think you should include Velasca Shoes as a budget option as well. Any thoughts on Velasca?
No, sorry Edward, it’s not the level of shoemaker we usually cover – the only time we’ve done so was with a round-up here
Hi Simon, I know you don’t buy RTW. Still, could you suggest between fashion house suits (Canali, Armani) or Savile row’s RTWs? Most fashion houses’ suits were made in Italy and not clear for Savile row.
Do you think ‘Made in Italy’ indicates better quality? Should I assume they have better quality?
Savile Row RTW is made in the same places, often Italy. There’s not difference there
Thanks. Would you say that full canvassed and half-canvassed one at a similar price should affect my choice?
Yes, you want a full canvas if you can
I’m a bit confused how Anderson & Sheppard entered level A in trousers, their RTW starts at £435.
Do you have a new recommendation for level A?
Because that’s RTW, and we’re covering everything here up to full bespoke that will often be over £1000. Each category covers a wide area
We are planning a bigger piece comparing RTW trouser makers
Hi Simon – thanks for the holistic write-up, and the brand spotlights
I’ve been in a pinch trying to find my first ‘grownup’ suit, but still don’t have a high-end MTM or Bespoke budget.
A lot of the makers you mention are under $2k for Jackets, but well beyond for the full suit.
1) What is the lowest price-point where you think you’re getting a respectable suit? Toeing the line of diminishing returns, ie. paying for maybe 80% of perfection.
2) Are there makers you know of around $1,500, where you can find a solid suit as a holdover until $2,500+ is achievable
I am seeing Anglo-Italian mentioned in comments for example..
1) I think at almost any point you can get a good suit for the price – I would say it’s more about buying what you can afford and buying it well. Realise what you’re getting and how to make the most of it (eg having a RTW suit altered, which so many don’t do)
2) Anglo I’d certainly recommend, and I’d suggest a few other brands we cover now and again, like Berg & Berg and Cavour.
I think it’s really hard to find a structured jacket in Paris well made without going to bespoke. Prominent sleevehead is what I need because i’m thin, so do you have any brand to advise for less than 3k for a suit ? I went to Jean-Manuel Moreau shop, it’s great, but not sure it is for my body.
Have you tried Husbands, Vincent? That’s the only brand that comes to mind in Paris that’s more angular.
I am not familiar with the full bespoke and high end mtm world..but I can’t understand why Solito has a startingprice of 3300 EUR for a full bespoke suit and Attolini has 5000 EUR for a mtm suit? Of course, Attolini is a bigger brand…I guess you pay a lot for the expensive rents they have for the HQ and stores on madison avenue and so on?
Yes, and also bear in mind a lot of other costs, such as developing exclusive materials often, and putting some actual design work into the tailoring.
Plus, you’ll find the finishing level is better with Attolini than with Solito
You mention the possibility of going bespoke on a pea coat which I find very interesting as it is normally quite a boxy garment. What design changes would you make from your original one cut by Davide Taub? Also curious which cloths/weights you would recommend.
To be honest I’m not sure I would go through the bespoke process again with a garment like that – there were too many design choices and too many little things I got wrong, from the braiding to the cloth. Unless a tailor had a bespoke one I could see and try on, I wouldn’t do it – I’d recommend getting a ready-made one tailored instead. If you want something less boxy then it’s pretty simple to taper the body as well.
Hope that saves you some time and money!
Thanks for the honest advice! Makes a lot of sense.
Oh good. Helps when you’ve been there!
I hope all is well!
The capsule building posts have been particularly helpful for me recently, especially some of the brands to look into. I’ve been able to find some good quality RTW items that fit me well, such as coats, shoes, and shirts, based on the brands recommended.
However, I’ve been having trouble recently with RTW trousers. I have larger legs and I’m much shorter than someone with my waist size. I’ve tried a pair from a lot of the brands recommended in Manish’s RTW trouser article. However, they all seem to have fit issues. They all tend to sit at the “bump” of my stomach, meaning I’m constantly adjusting them by pulling them higher or lower, and it is generally uncomfortable.
I’m thinking of commissioning some bespoke trousers to see if they can fix this problem, there is a local shop that starts around the $500 mark. However, this means I’d probably only be able to commission 3-4 pairs over the next year, given my budget. In addition to the trousers and shorts that I currently have, I’d be at 5-6 pairs of trousers/shorts per season.
Do you think that I should be concerned about the trousers wearing out too quickly, given that they’d all be worn about 1-2 times per week, each week, for about 6 months of the year? If I go ahead with the bespoke ones, should I be aiming for thicker fabrics, to ensure that they last longer? And do you think it’s worth going for the bespoke ones, given the fit issue? The best RTW fit, honestly, was Spier & Mackay, but those are on the very bottom of the quality spectrum.
Thank you for your help,
I wouldn’t think too far ahead until you’ve had one pair of bespoke made and decided the fit is that much better, that that’s all you want to wear from then on. I also would worry a lot less about shorts.
It’s worth having the trousers in harder wearing materials, yes, so they will last longer.
Thank you for the advice, I appreciate it! That’s true, I think I’ll go ahead and have just one pair of the bespoke ones made, and determine if the fit is that much better. Then I’ll worry about which pairs I should further invest in.